The Connecticut Firefighters Pipes and Drums band makes their way through the runners before the start of the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon on Sunday, June 26, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo
FAIRFIELD -- It was a warm at Jennings Beach Sunday morning, but the winners of the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon were used to much hotter days.
Claiming victory in the male division of the 13.1 mile race was Kumsa Adugna of Ethiopia, the nation of origin for the top four male finishers.The 24-year-old was running in his first Fairfield Half Marathon, but he dispatched the other 1,670 male runners like he was the reigning champion, finishing with a blistering time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 40 seconds.The top three were rounded out by Ketema Nigusse and two-time winner Worku Beyi, who finished with times of 1:04.55 and 1:06.15, respectively.
At the halfway mark of 6.5 miles, Beyi was out in front and on pace to threaten the course record of 1:02.41, but Adugna stormed ahead at the 9-mile mark and held off a hard-charging Nigusse for the lead throughout the rest of the race. Lucas Meyer, 27, of Ridgefield, finished in fifth place with a time of 1:09.52, best among American-born men. Local teenagers Matt Klein and Michael Johnstoncrossed the line ninth and 12th, as well.
Topping the field of 1,749 females was Malika Mejdoub, finishing with a time of 1:18.06, a mere five seconds ahead of runnerup Tertza Dengersa of Turkey. The 29-year-old winner from Morocco, in her third Fairfield Half Marathon, came here with one goal in mind: to win.
"I didn't come here to train. I ran smart, and I ran to win," said Mejdoub, who was 16 minutes off the course record she was aiming to shatter. "I'm not a morning person, but I would be out running at 10 a.m. and I would run at least eight hours a day. I run every race to win."
Mejdoub, who has been training at a running camp in New Mexico in preparation for October's Chicago Marathon, was tired, but the $2,000 prize awarded to the winners makes the exhaustion worth it. "It's really good money, it makes me feel less tired too," she said.
The fifth-place finisher, 40-year-old Shannon McHale of West Simsbury, with a time of 1:23.49, was the first American woman to cross the finish line, followed by five more local women rounding out the top 10.